In the Pacific Northwest, we've become accustomed to many excellent travel options right in our backyard. A day trip to Mount Hood to shred some fresh powder, a multiday expedition to Crater Lake National Park, or any number of excursions await just hours from home. If you're planning to spend a lot of time on the road this year, it's important to prepare.

Keeping a few essential items in your trunk can make your car feel more like home. Planning your routes beforehand can help you carve out time for relaxation. Upgrading your vehicle to a new, affordable electric or hybrid car can ensure you're comfortable while limiting your impact on the environment. Follow these tips to ensure your next adventure is a memorable one.

All-in-one car emergency kit

The more time you spend on the road, the more likely you'll run into issues—whether with your car or the traffic around you. Trouble can be unpredictable, especially in the Northwest, where rain and snow are common road hazards.

An all-in-one car emergency kit has several useful items in case you wind up in a jam. You can find one online or at most automotive repair shops. Typically it will include a first-aid kit, jumper cables, tire repair tools, and reflective emergency lights to keep you safe.

Consider investing in an electric vehicle

Electric cars are the future, and the future is now. Most automakers provide electric and hybrid options, not just Tesla. This expanded availability has led to increased affordability. There are many benefits to going electric, too: Electric cars are better for the environment and quieter, come with tax incentives, and require less maintenance. There are even special lanes for EVs in Portland, making it easier to zip through traffic.

So if you've been thinking about getting a new car, now may be the perfect time to upgrade.

OnPoint Community Credit Union is offering a Green Auto Discount for every electric or hybrid vehicle it finances. Not only will customers receive a discount of 0.25% off on an auto loan financing a new or used electric or hybrid vehicle, OnPoint will also make up to a $250 donation to The Nature Conservancy to fund climate mitigation projects in Oregon and Southwest Washington. OnPoint also makes it easy to find an electric or hybrid vehicle you love at local dealerships with its AutoSmart search feature.

Plan your rest stops and meals before getting into the car

Experts recommend you stand up and stretch your legs for 15 minutes every two hours while driving. However, rest stops can be few and far between.

Before getting into the car, do some research into your route and plan your stops. Planning meals ahead of time can be a great way to break up a full day of driving. Eating vitamin-rich foods that are light but filling can help prevent unwanted drowsiness. If you own an electric vehicle, pair your breaks with stops at one of over 1,600 EV charging stations across Oregon—so while your vehicle is fueling up, you can, too.

Things that make working from your car easier

Working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic makes it possible to work from just about anywhere—even your car. There have never been fewer barriers to taking a trip.

Need to create a mobile workstation while you're traveling? A steering wheel laptop desk is great for that. A car kettle can be excellent for camping trips, but it's essential when the next Dutch Bros. is 50 miles away and you need a pick-me-up ASAP. An organized car can make a world of difference when you are working away from home. A backseat organizer caddy is a simple solution to quickly finding a much-needed file, planner or zip drive.

Dress comfortably

If you wouldn't wear tight clothing and uncomfortable shoes on a 12-hour flight, you shouldn't on a car ride either. Dressing comfortably will make spending time in the car much more enjoyable. If you can easily move around in your car, your time spent traveling will be much more pleasant. Grab your favorite cotton T-shirt, a pair of loose-fitting jeans, and some slip-on sneakers, and you'll be ready to jump in the car and head to the coast on a whim.

Disclosures:

1. Between Feb. 1, 2021, and Nov. 1, 2021, OnPoint will contribute up to $250 to The Nature Conservancy of Oregon per qualifying auto loan from OnPoint for the purchase of a zero- or low-emission vehicle to support its climate change efforts, with a minimum total donation of $50,000. The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the land and waters on which all life depends. More information about the Conservancy is available by mail at 821 SE 14th Ave., Portland, OR 97214, by phone at (503) 802-8100, or at www.nature.org.

2. APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Vehicles meeting OnPoint's Green Auto Discount standards receive a 0.25% discount off stated APR (Annual Percentage Rate). All OnPoint loans are subject to credit terms approval. Discount does not apply to existing OnPoint auto loans.